This is a guest post by Carol Parker, content manager at Drugsdb.com. Carol holds a Doctor of Pharmacy degree from Albany College of Pharmacy.
These days, getting sick can be a costly business, especially for those who can't afford medical insurance. Not only does a person have to worry about paying the consultation bill from the doctor, but the cost of prescriptions seems to skyrocket each time you need to have them filled.
The good news is that there are many ways to save money on your prescriptions. Although they may require some effort on your part, the savings will be well worth it.
Why you should try to save money on your prescriptions
There is no doubt that the economy is in a very tight spot at this time. Because of this, it is important for a person to try and save as much money as possible on disposable purchases, especially where prescription medications are concerned. Money saved on prescriptions can definitely be put to better use elsewhere in our already overstretched budgets. By researching and finding ways to cut down on prescription expenses, it is possible to reduce their cost substantially. The good news is that there are many ways in which a patient can reduce the cost of their prescriptions.
The following are my top 10 tips to save money on prescription drugs:
- Always inquire about generic options which may be available. Many brand-name medications have generic substitutes which are required by law to contain exactly the same ingredients as the brand name medicines. Whenever you receive a prescription from your doctor for medication,make sure to ask about the possibility of generic alternatives available. The end result could be as much as an 80% savings on the cost of your prescription.
- Find out if you qualify for Patient Assistance Programs (PAPs). Certain pharmaceutical companies have put PAPs in place for those who earn below a certain wage or who simply can't afford any form of medical insurance. PAPs may include assistance in the form of savings cards, assistance with co-pays or levies, and coupons which can be redeemed against the price of certain medications.
- When possible, fill all of your prescriptions at one pharmacy. By having all of your prescriptions filled at one pharmacy, you will not only save time (and gas), but your pharmacist will get to know your particular prescriptions. This will come in very handy should you develop any allergies or unpleasant side effects from any of your medication.
- Consider the possibility of splitting higher-dose pills. It is a known fact that there is often very little difference in price when it comes to different dosages of pills. A 50mg pill will often cost almost the same price as the same pill in a 25mg dosage. Find out from your pharmacist if the medication you are using comes in different doses and if it is safe to split the larger-dose pills or not. It is important to note that some pills are not safe to split, but your pharmacist will be able to give you reliable advice in this regard.
- Communicate with your doctor. When you receive a prescription from your doctor, it's always important to speak up if you can't afford any of the medications that have been prescribed. Often your doctor will be able to prescribe alternative medications which may be more affordable for you.
- Help reduce co-payments by checking your formulary. Many medical insurance companies will only cover the cost of specific medications for some conditions, as stipulated in their formulary. If your doctor prescribes medication which is not listed on this formulary, it can result in you having to pay a higher co-payment. Check your prescription against the formulary, and if it's not listed, ask your doctor to prescribe an alternative medication that is on the list.
- Shop around. These days it is possible to purchase medication from some supermarkets, via mail order, and at various retail pharmacies. By shopping around, you may be pleasantly surprised to find that prices differ from one source to another. If you find that a particular source has all but one of your listed medications at a cheaper price, ask them if it's possible to get a discount on that particular item.
- Ask your doctor for samples. Thousands of people have allergic reactions to medications every year. Before paying for a full month's supply or course of a particular medicine, ask your doctor if there are any free samples available. This will enable you to try it before buying a full course of it. If possible, find out if your doctor is able to give you a 7- to 10-day supply of the drug so that you can assess it thoroughly.
- Search for coupons. Magazines, newspapers, and certain websites offer prescription-related coupons on various medicines and treatments. Two websites that are known for offering medicine coupons are InternetDrugCoupons.com and NeedyMeds.org. You also can ask your doctor's office if they know of any available coupons for your particular prescription drugs. Certain manufacturers even offer free, 30-day trial packs of their medicines.
- Maintain a healthy weight and lifestyle. By keeping fit and healthy, you will be able to minimize your risk of getting sick and requiring medication. Maintaining a healthy weight is also very important, because there are many diseases which can be linked to obesity, including diabetes and high blood pressure. Once diagnosed, both of these diseases often require a lifelong commitment to using prescription medication to manage them.
There are many ways for a patient to save money on prescription medications. In most cases though, prevention is definitely better than cure, so it is always important to consult with a doctor or other healthcare professional as soon as you realize that there is something wrong. That step alone will save a lot of time, effort, and money where prescription medications are concerned.
Author: April Dykman
As a freelance writer, editor, and blogger, April Dykman specialized in personal finance, real estate, and entrepreneurship topics. Her work has been featured on MSNBC, Fox Business, Forbes, MoneyBuilder, Yahoo! Finance, Lifehacker, and The Consumerist. Now she does direct response copywriting but, in her free time, April is a wannabe chef, a diehard Italophile, and a recovering yogi.